Firefighter fired, captain suspended after city investigation into alleged hate crime
An Ottawa firefighter, charged for allegedly attacking the fire department's first openly non-binary firefighter, has been let go from his job, while a captain was suspended without pay for three days for failing to report the incident.
Lawyers representing the defendants confirmed Thursday that Eric Einagel was terminated from his position with Ottawa Fire Services and Capt. Greg Wright will face a three-day suspension without pay following an internal investigation by the city.
"Based on the report from the City of Ottawa, Mr. Einagel believes that his termination is totally unwarranted and will seek to appeal this decision," read a statement from his lawyer Dominic Lamb.
The city neither confirmed any details of the report, nor whether it even took disciplinary action against the two firefighters.
"The City of Ottawa does not tolerate harassment, violence, or discrimination of any kind," wrote Margaret-Marie Steele, associate director with finance and corporate services.
Steele referred to city policies that ensure a "respectful and inclusive environment that is safe and free of harassment and violence for its employees," which includes a mandatory internal investigation in this case.
The investigation stemmed from an incident at Station 47 on Greenbank Road in Barrhaven last September, where a firefighter allegedly assaulted a non-binary rookie firefighter, choking them, lifting them from the ground and hurling gender-based slurs during the altercation, sources previously told CBC.
Sources also said the rookie, who CBC is not naming, went to the hospital the next day after allegedly not being permitted to immediately seek medical attention.
Firefighter to grieve suspension
Police are calling it a hate crime and have charged Einagel, 37, with assault for choking, aggravated assault, forcible seizure for allegedly grabbing the rookie from behind and criminal harassment.
Wright, 59, was the supervising captain at Pump 47 and responsible for all personnel at the station at the time. He is charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm for failing to provide the rookie with "medical attention."
"This is an important step," Paul Champ, who represents the complainant, said Thursday. "It's an acknowledgement by the employer about what happened and hopefully it'll make it easier for my client when they return to service."
The non-binary firefighter has been on leave with pay since the September incident and has been under "an enormous amount of stress," Champ said.
Joshua Clarke, who is representing Wright in his criminal case, said his client "is not accepting of this particular outcome" and has asked his union, the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association, to grieve the suspension.
The union would not provide comment on this story because of the ongoing police investigation.